Delayed by the Second World War, the repressive capitalism of the nineteenth century was eventually replaced by libertarian, affluent capitalism. Conformity, discipline and feelings of guilt – the symptoms of failure to cope with a system of moral dictates and proscriptions – gave way to the new imperative of self-realisation. The psychic ideal of the successful individual was characterised by dynamically renewable readiness for self-expansion, which for the subject meant having a capacity for self-motivation that could be activated at any time and that was immune to frustration. Failure now meant not being able to exhaust the full potential of one’s options. This development brought a diametric change in the character of mental illness. Neurosis, a disorder born of guilt, powerlessness and lack of discipline, lost its significance. Attention shifted to the self’s failure to realise itself. Depression, the syndrome described by Alain Ehrenberg in The Weariness of the Self, began its triumphal march.
Dr. Howard Gardner of Harvard University proposed that there are several types of intelligence.
1. Naturalist Intelligence (“Nature Smart”) - Designates the human ability to discriminate among living things (plants, animals) as well as sensitivity to other features of the natural world (clouds, rock configurations). This ability was clearly of value in our evolutionary past as hunters, gatherers, and farmers; it continues to be central in such roles as botanist or chef. It is also speculated that much of our consumer society exploits the naturalist intelligences, which can be mobilized in the discrimination among cars, sneakers, kinds of makeup, and the like.
2. Musical Intelligence (“Musical Smart”) - Musical intelligence is the capacity to discern pitch, rhythm, timbre, and tone. This intelligence enables us to recognize, create, reproduce, and reflect on music, as demonstrated by composers, conductors, musicians, vocalist, and sensitive listeners. Interestingly, there is often an affective connection between music and the emotions; and mathematical and musical intelligences may share common thinking processes. Young adults with this kind of intelligence are usually singing or drumming to themselves. They are usually quite aware of sounds others may miss.
3. Logical-Mathematical Intelligence (Number/Reasoning Smart) - Logical-mathematical intelligence is the ability to calculate, quantify, consider propositions and hypotheses, and carry out complete mathematical operations. It enables us to perceive relationships and connections and to use abstract, symbolic thought; sequential reasoning skills; and inductive and deductive thinking patterns. Logical intelligence is usually well developed in mathematicians, scientists, and detectives. Young adults with lots of logical intelligence are interested in patterns, categories, and relationships. They are drawn to arithmetic problems, strategy games and experiments.
4. Existential Intelligence - Sensitivity and capacity to tackle deep questions about human existence, such as the meaning of life, why do we die, and how did we get here.
5. Interpersonal Intelligence (People Smart) - Interpersonal intelligence is the ability to understand and interact effectively with others. It involves effective verbal and nonverbal communication, the ability to note distinctions among others, sensitivity to the moods and temperaments of others, and the ability to entertain multiple perspectives. Teachers, social workers, actors, and politicians all exhibit interpersonal intelligence. Young adults with this kind of intelligence are leaders among their peers, are good at communicating, and seem to understand others’ feelings and motives.